CRUZ BAY – Spectators at St. John’s 4th of July Parade got a first-hand look at the government’s first foray into fuel-efficient cars. Two super compact smart cars rolled up the parade route ahead of the appearance of the Grand Marshals, the island’s first responders.
St. John Deputy Police Chief David Cannonier led the way in a custom white patrol car with a black vinyl top, gold detailing and the blue VIPD logo stamped on the front fender. It was followed by a second smart patrol car painted in the familiar blue and gold.
VIPD spokesman Glen Dratte said five Mercedez Bens smart cars have been acquired for the territory. “Five cars total; two for St. Croix, two for St. Thomas, one for St. John,” Dratte said. “Fully electric, max speed up to 100 miles per hour; automatic drive, environmentally friendly.”
The police spokesman said the electric cars were brought in for use in town areas and because of their maneuverability. They add to the inventory of space-saving segues cops use to get around town and special events like parades.
Police in New York City adopted 100 smart cars in 2016 where they are frequently seen in the Times Square tourist district.
“These smart cars are fully functional with the same features as regular police units,” The spokesman said.
Except for one thing — passenger space in the tiny cars is at a premium.
Along with the compact size and possible savings on fuel costs, it was apparent the new vehicles also economize on cabin space. And while Cannonier — a pretty big guy — sat comfortably inside on parade day, two Cannoniers might have a hard time fitting in
… Much less any detainees or lost children. The vehicle is also not equipped with a security partition.
However, the police spokesman said officials have anticipated other contingencies. Electric cars, after all, have to be charged up.
In case of power outages, police motor pools and zone commands where smart cars are assigned are equipped with back up generators.
VIPD might also want to double check the optional features list. According to a 2015 press report in the Washington Post, the driver of a smart car was arrested after leaving the scene of a collision.
A feature called 911 Assist notified emergency services about an apparent hit and run. The driver was arrested after telling a skeptical 911 operator they did not know about a crash taking place.